Friends from Afar- World CitiZens Youth Summer Camp, 2015
The World CitiZen Youth Summer Camp was inaugurated in the Summer of 2015 by Ven. Yifa as a way to encourage Chinese children and teenagers to connect with global culture through the lens of Humanistic Buddhism and traditional Chinese thought. Global culture can be defined as a sense of belonging to not just one nation, but to a greater worldwide community that transcends boundaries and embraces the common values of peace, human welfare and education. This global culture is introduced through a curriculum that blends different traditions, Eastern and Western, with the assumption that they emanate from the same core intention, namely the betterment of life on Earth.
From another perspective, the World CitiZen Youth Summer Camp seeks to cultivate four qualities in its students that we see as characteristic of "world citizens": awareness (自觉), inclusivity (包容), diligence (进取) and tranquility (自在). A world citizen is aware of themselves, who they are, what they can be and their place in the bigger picture; in their awareness, they find what it is about themselves they share in common with people all around the world: hopes and dreams, worries and fears, and everything that makes us human, leading to an inclusive mindset; diligence arises in those who realize that the goal of creating a constructive global culture requires constant attention and energy; world citizens feel calm and tranquil upon realizing that they belong to a planet full of vast possibilities and people with similar goals.
This year's camp was held at Longfu Temple on the outskirts of Langfang City, Hebei Province (河北廊坊隆福寺). This was the ideal location for a camp of this nature. Not only are there ample dormitory facilities to accommodate the nearly 50 students, but the temple has numerous classrooms and plenty of space for a variety of indoor and outdoor activities. Its location near a medium-sized city makes it convenient to travel to from Beijing, but it is still far enough out of the way that students and practitioners are not distracted by a large amount of noise and tourist traffic. The temple assisted Woodenfish instructors and volunteers with every request and demonstrated a great deal of flexibility and understanding throughout the weeklong program.
The camp took place over one week at Longfu Temple (8/3-8/9). Students stayed in dorm-style accommodations. Their schedule was aligned with the daily schedule of the temple, eating at around the same time as the temple community. Classes were held throughout the day with scheduled personal time.
Coordinator and Volunteers
We are indebted to coordinator Michelle Jao for her efforts in promoting and overseeing all aspects of planning and running this summer's camp. Many thanks is also due to the Chinese volunteers who gave their time and energy to managing logistics, student life and meal services.Volunteers included college students on break, retirees and parents who took time off especially to help out at the camp.
The World CitiZen program seeks to expose Chinese youth to people from around the world as well as to give them an opportunity to improve their oral English. For this reason, all instructors come from different countries, teach most of their classes in English and use English to communicate with students outside of class. Each instructor draws from their individual skillset to offer something different to the program.
Cory Hardaker, Chief of Staff: English language teacher, martial arts and self-defense teacher
Kim Dembrosky: Art and first aid teacher
Ryan Richard: Government and politics teacher
Guttorm Norberg Gundersen: Cultural teacher, meditation instructor
Fernanda Polo: Art and culture teacher
Ashton Roberts: Assistant teacher
Emma Oeland: English teacher
Jordan Galler: Cultural teacher
Following the overwhelmingly positive response to the initial call for enrollments, the total number of students was increased from 30 to 50. At final count, 46 students, ages ranging from 7 to 17. All students were from mainland China. Because of the experimental nature of this year's program, we opted to let parents pay on a sliding scale, while another portion of students were give needs-based scholarships. For this reason, we had the opportunity to befriend students from all walks of life. Some came from Buddhist families, others were learning about Buddhism for the first time. Their diversity of outlook and varying degrees of acceptance created an atmosphere of exploration and energy that diffused into every activity at the camp.
The course and activity offering for this year's camp included:
Chinese Classics in English Students were challenged to understand familiar literature and ideas through a new language. Instructors gave lessons in Confucianism and Chinese Buddhism, with an emphasis on core values and ethical conduct.
Eastern and Western Etiquette Temple dining etiquette was taught to students as a form of cultivation. Instructors introduced students to various forms of greeting and politeness from around the world
America/European/Latin American Culture Classes focusing on interesting aspects of cultures foreign to Chinese students. Activities included music, arts and crafts, games and dance.
Chan Meditation Seated and moving meditation taught by instructors and Ven. Yifa
Creative Arts Painting, drawing, rosary-making, art meditation
Self-Empowerment Students were taught the basics of anti-bullying and kidnapping prevention to exercise their bodies and build self-confidence.
First Aid Students learned basics of first aid tools and care.
Farming Chan Students, instructors and monastics took to the fields to pick vegetables and do weeding.
Talent Show Students were divided intro groups, assigned an instructor supervisor and had to work as a team to prepare a short performance to give at the end of the camp for their friends and families.
Included here is the daily schedule used to organize the camp. As you can see, students were engaged throughout the day from sunrise to well past sunset. Adjustments were made in some activities to accomodate weather and special events, but this schedule still faithfully reflects the day-to-day life of our campers.
For more information on Woodenfish's World CitiZen's Youth Summer Camp, check out our official webpage.